UPDATE: TDSB should close schools to save money
A report by consultants PriceWaterHouseCoopers says there is evidence of 'maverick spending' at the Toronto District School Board and describes a culture of 'providing everything to everyone.'
The 72-page document has been described as 'tough medicine' by TDSB Education Director Chris Spence and makes 23 recommendations that they believe would reign in spending at the Board, saving between $50 and $92 million dollars over the next 2 years.
On Thursday night, trustees gathered for a 90-minute meeting where they were walked through the report by officials from PriceWaterHouseCoopers.
They were told that the TDSB should close 10 to 15 schools over the next 24 months and place tighter controls on unionised trade workers who they accuse of charging too much money for too little work.
The report calls for the TDSB to axe 175 caretaking jobs and 75 maintenance positions, and place higher scrutiny on absenteeism.
It also recommends outsourcing security, grounds and construction services.
TDSB Chair Chris Bolton says trustees want more time to research the report. They want to make sure the Board does not commit to spending money it does not have.
That's because the report calls for -- in some places -- the TDSB to spend money on hiring financial experts and set up new systems to keep closer tabs on maintenance and construction spending.
"Some of those (recommendations), particularly around technology, re-organisation of staff, and hiring new staff would have a pretty significant impact on costs so those savings (detailed in the report) are a gross savings, not a net," says trustee Cathy Dandy.
Along with the consultant's report, the Education Minister has offered to bring in special advisors to help the board manage its spending. Trustees were supposed to make a decision on that Wednesday night but they still haven't agreed to it.
They have also only agreed to half of the 23 recommendations presented in the report.
TDSB officials were not able to say how much more time they would need to deliberate the rest of them.
(with files from Heather Goode)